Gas Explosion Kills Seven At Mexico Resort

Five Canadian tourists and two Mexican workers killed, 12 injured.

 

 
 
 

GABRIEL ALCOCER, Associated Press | | Monday, November 15, 2010

GALLERIES

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Mexico Resort Explosion

Horrific scene in which the floor of the building was hurled through the ceiling by the force of the explosion.
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PLAYA DE CARMEN, Mexico - A powerful explosion that killed five Canadian tourists and two Mexican workers at a resort hotel on Mexico's posh Riviera Maya was apparently caused by build up of gas from a nearby swamp, authorities said.

The blast at the 676-room hotel Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, blew out windows and ceiling panels, and hurled paving stones and chunks of metal 50 yards (meters) onto the palm-fringed lawn of the compound.

Francisco Alor, attorney general of Quintana Roo, the state where the resort is located, said five Canadian tourists were killed and two others were in critical condition. A total of 12 people were injured in Sunday's explosion: Eight Mexicans, two Americans and two Canadians. The injuries of the Americans and Mexicans appeared less serious.

Alor described a horrific scene in which the floor of the building was hurled through the ceiling by the force of the explosion, blowing out windows and sending fragments of aluminum window and ceiling panels frame over a wide area.

"Everyone said their hotel room shook. The glass at neighboring restaurants all cracked and blew out. The tiki hut that was in the area, that was on fire," said James Gaade of St. Catharines, Ontario, who was walking on the beach when he heard a loud explosion and saw smoke coming from the resort's premium platinum lounge. "There was a large crater in the area, debris."

Alor did not identify the victims. Playa del Carmen Civil Defense director Jesus Puc said the Canadian fatalities included a nine-year-old boy.

A statement from Canada's Foreign Affairs and International Trade department said one Canadian was confirmed killed, adding that "we have received unconfirmed reports that three Canadian citizens are missing and seven are injured. No further information is available at this time."

The resort was hosting a large number of Canadians, including at least one wedding and a company vacation. Gaade estimated that 50 to 70 percent of the guests at the resort were Canadians.

The blast occurred in a lounge on the ground floor of one of a dozen or so buildings that make up the sprawling hotel, and left a crater a yard (meter) deep.

The area, next to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, was cordoned off and about 30 Mexican army soldiers stood guard around the hotel.

Alor said the initial investigations suggest the gas that exploded beneath the building was apparently not for cooking, but rather a mix of gases from a nearby swamp.

Alor told local media that investigations were under way to see if the hotel building, which sat on a concrete pad on a swampy area near the beach, had been properly constructed.

"The report suggests an accumulation of gases produced by decomposing organic material in the subsoil, and this gas produced the explosion," Alor said.

"Expert examiners and civil defense personnel will have to determine if the underground space filled with swampy water that remained in this zone when the building was constructed four years ago, could have generated this type of gases," he said.

Officials said no gas lines were located in the area where the blast occurred.

Pete Travers, program director of 570 News Radio in Kitchener, Ontario, was at the hotel with a large group of Canadians from nearby Waterloo. He said all members of his group were accounted for.

Travers recalled hearing a huge crash before he went down for breakfast. He stepped into the hallway to find people running from the blast site as word of an explosion rippled across the resort.

"There was quite a lot of chaos," Travers said. He and a few other guests rushed to grab deck chairs from the pool area to use as makeshift stretchers.

___

Associated Press Writer Mark Stevenson in Mexico City and Rob Gillies in Toronto, Canada contributed to this report.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mexico Resort Explosion

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Mexico Resort Explosion

In this photo released by 570 News via The Canadian Press, debris is seen scattered on the lawn of a resort hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. According to the Attorney General of the state of Quintana Roo, Francisco Alor, a blast at the hotel on Mexico's Caribbean coast, apparently caused by an accumulation of gas, has killed six people and left 15 wounded. (AP Photo/Pete Travers, 570 News via The Canadian Press)


Gallery 1

Mexico Resort Explosion

Debris are seen scattered in the lawn of the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. A powerful explosion believed to have been caused by an accumulation of gas killed six people, including four Canadian tourists, and injured 15, according to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor. (AP Photo)


Gallery 1

Mexico Resort Explosion

A Red Cross volunteer watches to the inside of the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. A powerful explosion believed to have been caused by an accumulation of gas killed six people, including four Canadian tourists, and injured 15, according to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor. (AP Photo)


Gallery 1

Mexico Resort Explosion

Police officers walk outside the Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. A powerful explosion believed to have been caused by an accumulation of gas killed six people, including four Canadian tourists, and injured 15, according to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor. (AP Photo/Israel Leal)


Gallery 1

Mexico Resort Explosion

A police officer patrols outside the Grand Riviera Princess hotel in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. A powerful explosion believed to have been caused by an accumulation of gas killed six people, four of them Canadian tourists, and injured 15, according to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor. (AP Photo/Israel Leal)


Gallery 1

Mexico Resort Explosion

Debris are seen scattered at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, Sunday Nov. 14, 2010. A powerful explosion believed to have been caused by an accumulation of gas killed six people, including four Canadian tourists, and injured 15, according to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor. (AP Photo)



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